An inside look at the design and story behind Stan Wawrinka's famous plaid shorts.
For 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka, the plaid was rad. The red, white and grey plaid shorts worn by the Swiss player made a bold fashion statement and his performance on the court followed the pattern.
Those shorts, they were the talk of Paris.
“To be honest, we were a bit surprised,” says Akiko Sato, spokesperson for the Japanese-based brand Yonex, the maker of Wawrinka’s on-court apparel. “But it was great to see all the attention Stan and his shorts received during the clay court season.”
But what about the U.S. Open? Will we see plaid?
“The look of the U.S. Open clothes will be separate from the French Open design,” Sato says. “We went with a clean look in order to convey a sharp, yet strong tone.”
Don’t think plaid will be gone forever, though, as the brand says that plenty of new ideas and styles currently bounce around the Tokyo headquarters. With two-time Slam winner and World No. 5 Wawrinka as the one of the brand's most recognizable names—Yonex also outfits Ricardas Berankis and Yoshihito Nishioka on the men’s side and 12th-ranked Belinda Bencic on the women’s side—there’s room for another statement in spring 2016. Satos says everyone will "just have to wait and see."
For the final Slam season in New York, Wawrinka will wear a bold red shirt during the day and a blue shirt for night sessions. Options for shorts will be solid white or black, each with a silver stripe running down the sides. Expect to see the black shorts paired with red during the day and the white come out at night with the blue.
Yonex decided to give Wawrinka a completely different look in North America. The branded wanted to avoid replicating the design that was made so popular in France, a common practice as apparel brands often plan out vastly different color schemes and designs for each of the Grand Slam events well in advance.
“There’s no denying Stan’s French Open outfit was a big hit,” Sato says. “And at the end of the day our job at Yonex is to create the best products that help players perform at their very best, but I guess you can say there’s a bit of pressure (to create something noticeable).”
Yonex went a non-plaid direction for New York City, playing on the boldness of solid colors and silver stripes. That doesn’t mean, however, with the pressure to repeat in Paris ever-present, that the plaid is gone forever.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, sneakers and design for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.